Published: March 12, 2013
By: Chris Schwartzkopf
Ill-esha’s latest album, Whiplash Recovery, is a sine wave and each track is a peak or trough in its low-end frequency.
As the opening cut “Bottled Up” fades in with an eerie, pulsing synth wave, the bass comes to the forefront. It’s not antagonistic by any stretch, but it’s unstoppable, all the same. It comes with the certainty of waves breaking on the shore.
Elysha Zaide does downtempo and midtempo like no one’s business. This is, inarguably, her niche. Her music encircles and enfolds listeners in a sonic palette that feels almost like a physical thing, like it should be more than mere vibration in air. As though one could move through it like thigh deep currents.
Whiplash Recovery is night music. These are sonic sketches for being alone with one’s thoughts as the night goes on. For walking or driving alone through the pools of orange light cast by lonely streetlights on the outskirts of the city. For yearning for something one can’t quite place or understand. It’s beautiful.
“Sundrops” stuck in my head. Of the 11 tracks that comprise the album, “Sundrops” most clearly showcases Zaide’s dubstep background. At 1:06, a sick, three-tone cluster and near-wobbly bass emerge to dominate the rest of the track. It never quite reaches the point of what would be considered true dubstep, but it’s still evident that Zaide knows what she’s doing in that department.
Zaide, known for her pipes, sings only twice on the album, but she adds a genuinely heartfelt quality both times. And her tenor vocal range is the best accompaniment to the deep, lush sounds she produces. Her voice never seems out of place.
One more thing that should definitely draw listeners to ill-esha’s music is Zaide’s social awareness. She has recently become involved with Critical Beats, a non-profit organization partnered with various electronic artists that donates 100% of album sales to programs aimed at preserving the ecosystem and indigenous cultures of the Amazon.
BreaksDowntempoDrum and BassDubstepGlitchHip Hop